Ah, the AHL. That long-dependable source of spring excitement for those fans who chose to cheer for losers. But following an American league team has more advantages than just seeing that scrub you hated in 20 games in the show now be the main attraction. You also get to see the next generation take their first steps into the pro game. Here's who's swam since jumping into the pro pool.
7. Bobby Sanguinetti, D Hartford Wolf Pack (New York Rangers Affiliate)
2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 5 SH, 0 PIM
Well, at least he's doing his job. A noted powerplay specialist throughout junior, the Trenton, New Jersey native was taken 21st overall in 2006 on the strength of a 65-point campaign. After 53 points this season, the 6'1, 174 rearguard debuted with New York's AHL club, going pointless in his first game. Looking to make an impact, Sanguinetti unfortunately made himself noticed on the wrong end of the ice last night. Despite hammering five shots from the point and making numerous nice plays with the puck, the Worcester Sharks bulged the net twice with Sanguinetti on the ice. Not expected to be a rock in his own end quite yet, the 19 year-old appears to have no problem translating his offensive game to the pros. It'll take some tough learning, but the future PP QB will be on New York's top man-advantage unit in three years.
6. Claude Giroux, LW, Philadelphia Phantoms (Flyers Affiliate)
1 GP, 0-0-0, -1, 1 SH, 4 PIM
Giroux had a big night last night, posting a goal and two assists, and earning first star in a 7-2 victory. Too bad it was the wrong Giroux, an AHL scrub named Alexandre. As for Claude Giroux, whose Phantoms were on the wrong end of the lopsided loss, he didn't look too out of place either. While pointless and a -1, my personal choice for Calder contender was more than fast and strong enough to keep up, outskating his peers every shift. The slight winger also showed his dirty side, earning some respect with two high sticks. If the 2006 first rounder performs well again tonight against Wilkes-Barre, it'll tough to argue that Giroux doesn't belong.
5. Jamie McGinn, LW, Worcester Sharks (San Jose Affiliate)
1 GP, 0-1-1, +1, 1 SH, 4 PIM
Earning the second assist on the game-winner in the aforementioned Hartford/Worcester tilt, winger Jamie McGinn was part of the reason Sanguinetti had so much trouble. Chosen 36th overall by the Sharks in '06, McGinn joined Worcester after a stellar 46-goal, 89-point season with the Ottawa 67s. Physical, smart along the boards and generally looking mature beyond his years, McGinn, fourth liner Grant Stevenson and 21 year-old up-and-comer Torrey Mitchell combined to form a solid line. On the ice against Binghamton tonight, look for McGinn to pot his first goal as a pro.
4. Trevor Lewis, C, Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Affiliate)